NZ Green Party
Does John Key read Michael Pollan?

With new MPs in our caucus and a general parliamentary reshuffle underway we Greens are on the move out of our offices.  While it’s still not certain where we are off to, this time it looks like we’re big enough to warrant two rather than one floor of Bowen House. Gerry Brownlee was wandering about our floor yesterday eyeing up our current offices but I’m not sure whether it was for some of his expanded caucus or if he was intending to exile some of the depleted Labour MPs over here.  My view across to the Beehive lawn is likely to remain though – just from a different height.

This segues rather obliquely on to the topic of Barack Obama. You’ll remember that last month I noted that Michael Pollan was calling on Obama to give political thought and action towards food, and as an immediate first step send a message to the people of America by growing his own food on the White House lawn. I argued that such a vege garden could work here at Parliament too.  Well, it turns out that Obama HAS been reading and digesting Pollan’s work:

There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy. I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollan about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it’s creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they’re contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That’s just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.

So, how about that, John Key?  I can tell you’ve been busy over the last few days, what with the increasingly bizarre positioning statements from Rodney Hide and all to deal with.  But have you had time to brush up on food policy by reading a little bit of Pollan like Obama has? I’m expecting my new office window should have a great view of the lawn the front of the Beehive where you could grow a mighty fine crop of spuds, rhubarb and carrots.

25 thoughts on “Does John Key read Michael Pollan?

  1. But given what some peoples’ opinion of politicians is, I would have to adise any and all not to eat any of the produce!!

    BTW. Are you a party staffer or a parliamentary staffer?

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  2. Why do the Greens not grow food, in parliamens’ green space, of their own bat?

    Why does John Key have to provide the initiative?

    Surely while busy shifting office, a word in the “right” ear would see the Greens planting crops?

    Or are you better at pointing out what people “should” do, but not prepared to do it yourselves?

    So come on Greens, lets see the spades out, the lawn dug up and the vergetables planted!

    Dont wait for John Key or the government to “give” you permission. Ask for it (parliamentary services?) and get planting. Show the initiative!

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  3. In my town, we’ve converted an abandoned field beside the highschool, another between the primary school and the early childhood centre and a third behind the local supermarket, to food production. The vegetable gardens on our own hectare are expanding daily, due to an inspiratational/inspired son (working with his slightly less vigorous father!) and we are pushing, pushing the idea that, ‘real men have big gardens’ and several other ‘get gardening’ promotions to get people under way with their food independence. Digging up the lawns of the beehive would be a gimick that would capture some media attention, but I’d rather hear from all politicians that live in Wellington, about the gardens that they no doubt have at their homes, houses, flats whatever it is they live in. Let’s start with Jeanette :-)

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  4. M8

    I wonder what the property owners think of this? Have they tried to get rent off you for the use of the land?

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  5. Strings? Is your question for me?
    The schools and local council have bestowed their blessings and the work is being done by reps from all involved. Guess it must be some communist thing and best derided :-)

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  6. That is very interesting frog. Pollan was very active in trying to drastically alter the Farm Bill – would be good if Obama tried to do something meaningful with that next time it comes up, but going by the way he’s supporting ethanol producer-farmers, it’ll probably just be better than nothing, rather than ‘really good’.

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  7. Strings – cheers and yep! It’s taking off just in time. We’ve got an orchard project going as well, to get fruit trees back out into the community. So far, we’ve put through about 1000. Next year we’ll double that. Most are going into back yards but I’m aiming to get roadsides and wastelands done in the coming season (some ‘discreet’ plantings are already estabished) Food for all. Help yourself! One of my driving ‘forces’ is the desire to give the children of this region a chance to raid orchards like I did when I was young. Presently, there’s precious little to raid. They are hard pressed to find a creek to catch crawlies in as well, but we are working on that too. And other things.

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  8. Greenfly, you never cease to impress me with what you are acheiving in you region, excellent work!!!
    I want to get involved in exactly the same stuff in my area, I’ve just gotta learn how to run my business better first, so I can have a bit more time to devote to it!!.
    What sort of fruit trees are you growing?
    I like the idea of sneaking trees on to road sides, it is EXACTLY what I was thinking of doing :)

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  9. The best solution is to just get out there (in the dead of night if need be) and dig a veggie patch.

    If anyone tries to remove it the press will be all over it so it will be a done deal – and you’d likely get international press as well – whether it stays or goes.

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  10. apples and plums mainly shunda – alongside of the roads plant apple rootstock (I use mm106), let it grow for a year or two (at $2 each, there’s not much to lose if they get overgrown) then graft your favourite heritage apple scions on in the season. If you know of a good, resistant roadside apple, graft from that and spread the joy! Plums grow from cuttings, so find the old favourites, tried and true from your area and put them in direct or into a bed for later lifting and planting out. We are looking at a project to plant fruit trees at every rest area. Think about gooseberries and the currants (red, white and black) also. Medlar, quince, japonica, pear, fig, the list is endless. If you are interested, it goes further into understories of herbs etc. to support the trees’ health and attract and feed pollinators. And other things.

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  11. karma – or, you can be really subtle and find veges that don’t seem like veges
    ( some of the kales, miners lettuce, sorrels etc.) and plant and sow them everywhere They won’t get pulled up or sprayed if you are clever, and there will be bounteous food for those who need it in times of …need…. (if they know what to look for :-)

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  12. Also, the Kaikorai Commons project on “waste” council land in Dunedin has just planted quite a few fruit trees in their public space. If you saw a snippet of Jeanette on TV3 treading down the soil round a pear tree, that was at KC.

    The project leader, Hendrick, one of those greenies like Greenfly who work away tirelessly in the background at making our shared spaces better, tells me that they are not allowed to plant nut trees, because the council is worried they might attract rats. Boo to that, haven’t they heard of Totnes, the nut capital of Britain?

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  13. Greenfly, plums and apples grow quite well in my area, I didn’t realise you can grow plums from cuttings I will give that a go, I assume in winter?
    The heritage varieties are definately the way to go, less disease and who cares if the fruit isn’t the shinyist on the outside!!
    This is the stuff I like about greenies, so I guess in a way I am a closet greenie :)
    (pssst…. don’t tell anyone)

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  14. green on the inside, blue on the outside – shunda, you’re a strange fruit! :-)

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  15. Ping pong you read my mind!! :)
    OMG Ireally am a greenie!!
    arrhhhhhhhhhhhahhhh

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  16. “green on the inside, blue on the outside – shunda, you’re a strange fruit!”

    I prefer to be known as uniquely complicated
    That or dazed and confused!!!! :|

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  17. green on the inside blue on the outside—sounds like a Damson plum to me. :-)

    All the roadside apples were destroyed in many areas as they were thought to harbour disease that could endanger our exports.
    Life is never simple :-(

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